Wednesday, 16 May 2012

How To Secretly Work On Your Novel While At Your Day Job


For writers, nothing is worse than leaving your laptop to go to your day job—you know, the place where you actually get paid. But don't let resentment cloud your ambitions. There's a way to keep the creative juices flowing even when away from your computer. Here are a few ways to secretly work on your novel while at your day job.

1. A two hour meeting in the board room?

Excellent! Take a few pens and keep your notepad on your lap, just under the table and out of sight. Throughout the meeting, glance up from your writing and make eye contact with the speaker, nod, and then write for the next five minutes. Keep repeating this process until the meeting is over. At the end of the session everyone else is weary and yawning, but you my friend have a spring in your step because you totally nailed the word count for that chapter.

"And then...and then...and then..."
photo credit, taitegallery.net
2. A co-worker talks non-stop?

Embrace her enthusiasm! The office gossip is worth her weight in gold. Listen to her...no REALLY listen. Memorize all her turns of phrase and quirky slang. Notice the gestures she uses when telling something especially juicy compared to how she greets the boss. BAM!! You just met your MC's neighbour/sister-in-law/horrible blind date. This gum snapping, pen clicking, bucket mouth is going to give your book loads of color.

3. An annoying co-worker?

Bonus! Make a list of his most annoying traits. Does he say, “TGIF” EVERY Friday? Does he ALWAYS hit the elevator button even though it's already lit up? Does he call you by a nickname that makes no sense? BINGO! Take this stuff and give it to your antagonist's sidekick.

4. Is your plot stuck at a crossroads, unsure which way to go?

No worries! The answer is close at hand. Go to the guy no one talks to. You know who I mean, he's the quiet guy who smells like cabbage and still lives with his parents. He's the guy you know has weird stuff hidden under his bed. Seek him out and tell him your characters problem, but pretend they're real people. Don't even ask for advice, just wait and listen. It's the still waters that run deep. WHAM! He might give you the freaky twist no one saw coming.

5. Are you a stay at home parent?

Lucky dog! Kids are hilarious because their imaginations are untethered by logic. Listen not for the slang, but for the reasoning. Case in point, here's a conversation between my eight year old son and his friend sitting in our backyard as they chewed bubblegum.

“Okay,” my son's friend started. “You're in a boat and you're surrounded by sharks...what do you do?”

Chewing noise then, “Hit it with the oar.”

“There's no oars.”

“Take off the engine and hit it—“

“—there's no engine.”

A bubble pops followed by a long pause. “I'd let him close enough to bit me, then I'd punch him in the eye like a thousand times.”

Me? I would have stayed in the boat. But how boring is that? I never would have made a character dive in and start a fist fight with a shark—I will now though.

See? There's inspiration everywhere, you just have to be open to the opportunities. As one of my co-workers said, “You can never quit working here, the material is endless. There's so much sh** happening each shift, it's like a new chapter every day.

Yup, I couldn't agree more.

So listen, I need to find something to blog about for Mondays since Once Upon A Time is finished for the summer. My Monday blogs are purely fluff and I'd like to stick with something that's popular and not too heavy. I have a few ideas, but I'm going to let you guys decide. Just leave a vote in the comments section.

Which would you like to read on my blog?

50 Shades of Grey (yes, that one)
The Bachelorette (I've never watched one full episode...ever)
Any other suggestions???

Cheers!

25 comments:

Emy Shin said...

:D These are *awesome* advice. I am particular fond of #1, and will try it out at the earliest opportunity.

Amanda Fanger said...

I loved the comments from your kids in this post! I remember interviewing my brother once when he was eight. I was asking him all kinds of questions about how he would react to a situation that I was putting a child character through in one of my stories. That was lots of fun, but I think he thought I was crazy at the time...needless to say, I don't think he's changed his mind about me since I'm still writing ^_^

Melinda Chapman said...

I was already LMAO at number 1! I must admit I've done the notepad thing in a meeting. And number 4 gets a gold star for daring brilliance. :)
Oh, pretty pleeease - I vote on 50 Shades of Grey! I'm not going to read it any time soon. I'm more of a 50 Bags of Earl Grey. Well, that's not quite true either, but I think it would be more fun to see what you do with the material! ;)

Bethany Myers said...

I hope you gave him $5 for that ;)

Bethany Myers said...

Good luck with that, Emy. Thanks for the comment.

Bethany Myers said...

50 Bags of Earl Grey! You kill me, I love that. What a perfect spoof title for their retirement years. Thanks, Melinda.

Kimberlee Turley said...

Loved this list. I don't do the notebook thing at work, but I've done it at church which is probably just as bad.

The annoying co-worker thing I've used in real life too. You meet all sorts of weird characters, especially at Walmart. I'll find myself jotting down mental notes about what they're wearing, how they say a particular phrase and especically the annoying habits.

LateToTheParty said...

You give me a teabag set up and then expect me just walk away? Sigh. As you can tell, I'm too emotionally immature to vote in this matter. I love the writing at work tips, BTW. Said the man commenting, at work.

Jeff Hargett said...

And here I thought I was going to discover new computer monitor screen grab/switch apps and the like. Well, this is just about as good, I suppose. People watching is a conscious decision for me seeing as how I'm usually oblivious to most everything around me. (Not a good trait for a writer.)

Regarding post ideas... surprise me.

Bethany Myers said...

Ha! I forgot to add reading writers blogs. Thanks, Elias.

Bethany Myers said...

Definitely easier then making it up! Thanks, Kimberlee.

EnchantingEditor said...

Great post, Bethany! I'm sure many of us have typed a few thousand words while sitting in our offices. My vote is for The Bachelorette (I'm a little 50'd out).

dalesittonrogers said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dalesittonrogers said...

Receptionist jobs can be great for writing. I wrote a large percentage of a novel and started a teleplay at a job I had for a couple of years.

Claude Dancourt said...

God I needed that...
Sorry, no idea for your Monday blogs. Unless you want to start and watch Eureka. Funny witty one, but already on Season 5.

Kathryn said...

Love all this and I should probably stop there because I'm at work right now and don't want to get busted. (butI'vewrittenthreebooksatworkwhilemystudentsaredoingwork)

Bethany Myers said...

Thanks, Claude.

Bethany Myers said...

Shhh, I got your back, bro.

Karen Lenfestey said...

So funny! I especially like the inspiration from your son. I used to think about my novel when I was on lunch duty (supervising kids in the school cafeteria). It made the time go by so much faster.

Bethany Myers said...

Thanks, Karen.

G. B. Miller said...

I do number 2 & 3 with great frequency and number 1 in total overkill/overdrive redundancy.

Numbers 2 & 3 have been great fodder for me in loads of short stories (majority unpublished) and my novels. When you work in an open space environment, anything and everything is fair game.

As for heavy duty fluff for Mondays, probably the only thing that I can suggest is the new season of Dexter if/when it come on, although that might be a bit too dark for your blog.

Bethany Myers said...

Thanks, G.B. I love Dexter, but yeah a bit dark for this blog.

Cheers!

Melinda Chapman said...

Hehehe! Sorry, Elias. Okay, I decided to make up for it by continuing the joke. Bethany, your hopes for a spoof have been answered earlier than expected... :)
http://aroundthedeepend.blogspot.com.au/2012/05/ill-show-you-hot.html

Jessica L. Foster said...

Excellent advice! Writers are creative, we find ways to write even when we aren't supposed to be writing. Thanks for sharing.

Reality Chase said...

I love the imagination of little kids. I have a five-year-old brother and the things he says are hilarious

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